By Peter Moon
THUNDER BAY – Five Canadian Rangers from the Far North of Ontario have won praise for teaching some of their winter survival skills to a group of southern soldiers.
“It was awesome working with the army guys,” said Ranger Quinton Anishinabie from Sandy Lake First Nation. “They thanked us for teaching them some of what we know.”
The southern soldiers were from the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, a reserve unit headquartered in St. Catharines. Forty-four soldiers spent three days training at a military training centre near Sudbury, living in tents and learning a number of winter skills from the Rangers.
“I took them out on snowshoes,” Ranger Anishinabie said. “Some of them had a hard time using them. They got tired on the hills. But it was a learning experience. I taught them how to set snares to catch rabbits and how to build emergency shelters.”
The soldiers also learned how to use a flint to start a fire without matches and how to drive snowmobiles. For many it was their first experience on a snowmachine.
The other Rangers were Sergeant Byron Corston from Moose Factory, Master Corporal Floyd Fiddler from Sandy Lake, Master Corporal Jason Hunter from Peawanuck, and Ranger Fletcher Mack from Peawanuck.
Peawanuck is a small Cree community in Polar Bear Provincial Park near the Hudson Bay coast. “The soldiers asked a lot of questions about what life was like in Peawanuck,” said Master Corporal Hunter. “They wanted to know about animals and that sort of thing. I told them we’d been having temperatures like -58c with the windchill for weeks and they found It hard to believe that.”
“The Rangers and the soldiers all learned from each other,” said Warrant Officer Nick Luhtanen, an army Ranger instructor. “The Rangers heard and learned from stories told by the soldiers and vice versa. The Rangers had a great time showing them what they can do in the winter. For the last big meal the soldier provided steaks and the Rangers cooked bannock, which was a big hit for the soldiers.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Cincio, commanding officer of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, said the feedback he got from his soldiers was positive. “It was an excellent opportunity for our soldiers to get in some good winter training and learn extra skills from the Rangers who are so good at what they do.”